The Walking Dead Season 4 Episode 12 recap

Notes from last week’s episode. Apparently there was some discussion about the guy who saw Rick while he was under the bed. I thought he was dead, but then on The Talking Dead Andrew Lincoln said otherwise. I don’t watch The Talking Dead, and stuff like that ought to be clear in-episode, but we’ll go with that guy still being alive, and since the man spotted on the porch as Rick et al fled is a recognizable actor, let’s also assume that the rape-happy biker gang will be back. And there are five groups on the road from the broken down Rick & Co. outfit, not four.

This episode should be titled “Daryl and Beth Make Bad Decisions While Bonding Over Booze”. The whole episode was dedicated to Daryl and Beth and it wasn’t horrible. It wasn’t terribly exciting, either, but it did give us a chance to get to know Beth as more than just “Maggie’s helpless sister” and it gave Norman Reedus some solid material to work with beyond just glowering. It also had some great music from series composer Bear McCreary, who is one of the best composers working on TV and still manages to outdo himself sometimes.

Not much happened on this episode, as the driving plot device was Beth’s desire to have her first drink, but we did hit on two major character moments by the end. To start with, though, Beth wants that drink. And frankly, she needs it after being stuck in a trunk all night, waiting out a zombie horde on the road. In the moment it’s not a bad idea but what if a zombie managed to get in the trunk? They’d have been dead meat.

You know I love getting to see glimpses of what’s been going on with other people during the zombie apocalypse, and this episode takes us into a country club where it looks like people attempted to hole up only to have their makeshift society break down in what appears to be a class war. At least, that’s what I’m extrapolating from the “Rich Bitch” corpse that looks like her eyes were gouged out. Daryl steals—actually, it’s more like appropriation since there’s no one to steal from—a bunch of money and Beth’s like, “What’s the point of that?” But Daryl doesn’t get why Beth wants a drink, or why Beth is still around, really. Welcome to the club, Daryl.

Daryl’s all, “Screw peach schnapps, I’ll get you some real hooch,” and takes Beth to a skeevy cabin he and Michonne found once. There’s a moonshine still out back, and in an incredibly bad decision, he and Beth drink and play Never Have I Ever. It’s terrible on a couple levels. 1) Drinking in an unsecured location is super risky, and 2) Beth hasn’t done ANYTHING, so she’s pretty much guaranteeing the more useful half of their duo is too sh*tfaced to be useful in case of zombies. Which is pretty much what happens. Daryl gets pissed off because he had a sh*tty childhood and also he’s stuck with the most useless person from the prison, and then Beth flips out because what the f*ck, Daryl, I might not be Michonne but I’ve lived this long so just what the f*ck, seriously.

It’s not groundbreaking dialogue, but it brings us to Daryl and Beth, both pleasantly buzzed, tacitly deciding to get on with things and keep surviving. Beth acknowledges that she is going to die and Daryl will have to go on without her, and Daryl accepts that he is sad that, as far as he knows, everyone from the prison is dead or gone forever, and that it’s okay to feel sad, just as long as he doesn’t give up. We also learn that pre-apocalypse he was just wandering around with Merle, not doing much of anything.

It’s the moment that makes the episode as it pushes Daryl farther on his arc. He’s gone from bum to Rick’s number two, and now, with no Rick or Merle or anyone else to give him orders and with Beth relying on him, it’s Daryl’s time to step up and be the one calling the shots. We’ve seen the zombie apocalypse bring out the worst in people, but here is someone who is far better than he likely ever would have been otherwise. This is when Daryl goes from being the beta to a leader in his own right—it’ll be interesting to see how he interacts with Rick when they meet again.

And then Beth and Daryl light the house on fire because nothing says “Let’s be super best friends” more than committing arson together.

Status Check:
Daryl – Has a mean golf swing.
Beth – Still here, dammit!
Everyone else – Wandering in the woods, respectively.

Worst thing seen/heard this week: Peach schnapps.

Zombie kill of the week: Daryl to the head with a golf club.